The K-State Alumni Association hosted the biennial Black Alumni Reunion over the weekend at the Prairiewood Retreat and Preserve, featuring a special gala that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kansas State’s Black Student Union.
The reunion was spearheaded by Jessica Elmore, associate director of diversity programs, who is already moving onto the next project: organizing K-State Homecoming Week activities.
The Black Alumni Reunion is held every other fall. This year, multiple events were scheduled Thursday through Saturday, including fishing, canoeing, painting, oral histories, educational speakers and a gala.
“This weekend was just very special overall,” Brandon Clark, student programs coordinator for Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs and BSU advisor, said. “But the 50th anniversary gala for me, really is what made this weekend so special. It speaks to the power of our BSU.”
The gala, Clark said, was the signature event to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
“We thought it would be a good idea to collaborate and say, instead of BSU doing its own separate celebration – which we kind of have been celebrating the 50th Anniversary all year – but why don’t we make this the signature large scale event by doing a big banquet or gala during the Black Alumni Reunion, so that our alumni can participate and be a part of the 50th anniversary celebration?” Clark said.
Clark said it is impactful for alumni to see the traditions they shared as students carried on by the organization to this day.
“I think that speaks to the power of our BSU too, when you can build some strong traditional programming that is still beneficial and impactful, and allowing the alumni to see that those traditions carry on, because they know how important it was for them and their development while they were here,” Clark said.
Bryon Williams, former BSU alumnus and interim director of new student services, agreed.
“There is that common thread that binds us all in that organization — almost spiritual in a sense at this point — that allows people to be safe, and to grow and feel nourished and to get what they need outside of the classroom,” Williams said.
K-State’s BSU has earned many accolades in its history — in February, it was named the best in the Big 12 Conference for the 11th time in 14 years.
“I believe that our organization continues to be in a better and better place,” Williams said. “I think there continues to be a stronger foundation and kind of business mindset to the organization, while still maintaining that student family feel within the organization.”